Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her two sons and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something. He said to her, “What do you wish?” She answered him, “Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at your right and the other at your left, in your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “You do not know what you are asking….You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and the great ones make their authority over them felt. But it shall not be so among you.”
You don’t know what you have till it’s gone. How true. Some of the greatest lessons are learned the hard way. Yes, very true and very unfortunate. Some things you can never take back. Yep! I agree with that. First be kind to someone before asking for something. How convenient.
Prior to asking Jesus for a favor, the mother of James and John did him homage. How convenient. But if she only knew what she was asking for, she may never have asked for it.
Not too long ago, while I was unvesting after Mass, a woman in her late fifties asked me if she could speak to me. Although I could smell alcohol on her breath, I was more than delighted to do so. At first she was very kind to me, telling me wonderful things. And then she told me her sad story and how she had gradually lost everything. You see, she was a very popular girl in high school; the girl that all the boys went after (and got). She was fun to be with and was always invited to the parties. But gradually, she began to drink at the parties and eventually began to take drugs at the parties. She lost her low-income job. She lost all her boyfriends and now she had nowhere and no one to turn to. She asked me if I could help her. I asked her, “What do you need?” She said, “Four hundred dollars.” I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a bit shocked at the request. “I can’t help you with four hundred dollars.” I replied. “Can you help me with one hundred?” I took out my wallet and showed her ten dollars. “This is all I have.” She looked at my ten dollar bill and was totally disgusted with me. “Phew! That’s all you have? Can you give me one hundred dollars?” At that, I came very close to her face and said, “I told you, I don’t have one hundred dollars to give to you.” She left and while she was leaving, I said to myself, “There goes the popular girl in high school.”
Whoever exalts themselves will be humbled; but whoever humbles themselves will be exalted (Mt 23:12). How true! How very true! The last shall be first and the first shall be last (Mt 20:16). Surprise! And how about this one, “If you wish to find yourself you must lose yourself first (cf. Mt 10:39). This one really drives logical people insane! I have said this before and I will say it again. I think logical people are very boring. Why? Because if they give someone a hug, it’s for a reason! If they give you a gift, then it must be your birthday or Christmas. Where is the surprise in that??? Christians do not give hugs for a reason; they give hugs for no reason! And maybe that’s the reason why the Lord could care less about people doing him homage and instead preferred authentic humility, fidelity and love.
Good boys and girls always seem to suffer a bit in high school. They are the last to be invited to parties. They may even be the last invited to the Prom. In fact, they may never even be asked on a date while in high school! But in reality, they couldn’t have it better. If they keep their head on straight and protect their heart for the best of the best, they will grow, blossom and bloom, while the quick bloomers fade and wither away.
Jeremiah suffered tremendously for being faithful to God. In today’s first reading, you can feel Jeremiah’s pain and see how he has been emotionally and physically drained by the people he serves. They are plotting against me, and it will mean absolutely nothing to them. They seek to destroy me and carefully note every single word I say or write!
Jeremiah begs the Lord to listen to what his opponents are saying. He cries out to the Lord, “Must good be repaid with evil?” The answer for now will be, “Yes.” Here’s another one of those sayings that are so true: Good is often repaid with evil.
But that will not be the end of Jeremiah’s story. The Lord will make sure of it. Although his life may be brief, his words will be recorded forever in Scripture. His words will never die; and neither will he.